Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PC can... (fold in ways Macs cannot) ... and then, it is finished.

You've probably seen all these new PC can... advertisements from Intel.

They're almost all extremely accurate.  In fact, Lenovo's Flex and Yoga lines of laptop computers have been extremely interesting to me.

I have a Flex 14 on the way.  (Flex is apparently Yoga on a low cost diet.) US$749.99 doesn't seem bad for a dual core i7, 1920x1080 touch-enabled display with Intel 520 graphics, 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB hard drive.  I've already seen this one work and it seems reliable, and a good (but not great) performer.  It folds into multiple different configurations, including a convertible/tablet much better than the original IBM ThinkPad from the 1990s.  It's about 1/3 the price of something refurbished I'd be buying from Apple.  I'm not saying that they would be equivalent machines, though.

Lenovo Flex 3 14

Now, I haven't been a Windows user, by choice, since Windows 3.1 on an IBM L40SX.  I used Windows 98SE for a while because I had a machine given to me.  I was like the PC manager in the Mac advertisements who went home to his Mac after an unhappy day handling Windows problems.  24 years is a long interval between a desire to use Windows but things have changed.  To me, Microsoft had always been a pain, with their sloppy coding, anti-competitive attitude, and unwillingness to take care of bugs and security problems.  With Windows 7, they started to change all that, and I considered what they did to be an opportunity to switch.

Windows 10 is good.  Is it great?  I'll let you know.  What's not great is Apple's attitude toward my productivity.  I'm currently using a machine that was introduced in mid-2012, a 2.6 GHz Quad Core i7 MacBook Pro.  I immediately replaced the hard drive with a 480 GB SSD and put 16 GB of RAM into it, as well.  Today, it's a good machine but three years is quite a long time for a computer.  When I'm working it hard with hundreds of photographs or video processing, the CPU is reporting that it is hot enough to boil water.

That's not the real problem, though.  Apple's attitude toward software quality changed quite a while ago during Mac OS X 10.5 when Avie Tevanian left the company.  They became sloppy and careless.  They didn't care about security.  It has continued and has been exacerbated by the iPad and iPhone, and in the last week or so, there was an announcement from Blizzard/Activision that the latest game would not be available for Mac, unlike previous dual operating system releases from Blizzard.  Part of the problem is that OpenGL has not been updated for a very long time.  Apparently, the Metal game functionality is not friendly, ready, or perhaps, it just has a big learning curve.

I don't expect this newer 2.5 GHz dual core i7 in the Lenovo laptop will be faster than that of my 2012 MacBook Pro but it has the Turbo mode, even though there are only half the cores to compete against the older quad core i7.  Considering that I want to use this for video creation and light gaming, it should be enough.  Applications have certainly become more complicated.  I need to learn whether it will accept a 16 GB RAM card in its single slot.  I suspect it may need the extra working space, although Windows 10 should be efficient even though it is early in its commercial existence.

It should be interesting to see the various games from Valve Software that I have on Steam, work on Windows 10, if they're even compatible yet.

I was helping the person who got it first to get some extra browsers, register the machine, and get started with a video project.  I was really unhappy with the trackpad because I would try to click and the cursor would move each time.  He said to double tap the trackpad and that worked incredibly well.  I'd seen reviews complaining about the trackpad, so maybe there isn't a real problem.  Let's see how right-click works.  Two finger scrolling works almost as well as with my Macs.

We'll see how I like it when I get it Wednesday or so.

Update 2015.11.18: Everything is here.  I've downloaded Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, as well as loading Sony Movie Studio Suite.

I'm enjoying some frustration.  Things have not worked as well as I would have expected but there is a new computer and a new operating system, plus the keyboard and trackpad are surprising me.  I suppose that I will survive.

It seems that Lenovo isn't happy with the inbuilt Intel graphics hardware.  I don't know if this is a problem with the diagnostics or if the graphics hardware is actually broken or just lacking.  Another of the Lenovo applications was trying to download an update for their photo application and it wasn't able to do it for whatever reason.  The good thing is that I checked for Superfish and it didn't exist.

Mathematical Operations?

I've used about 4 GB today getting updates.  What's strange is that Windows says that it's getting critical updates but then, McAfee LiveSafe (I think that's what it is) managed to find 4 other updates, including 2 that were marked critical.  Flash was included in those, but that's a weekly security update anyway.  Die, Flash, die!

I'm guessing that this probably wasn't the whole big update that is available, so that will take more bandwidth from my monthly allowance.  It's always tough getting a new machine going, isn't it?

I'm thinking about ditching McAfee for Bitdefender, especially since the McAfee suite is just a trial package.  I know that none are perfect but there can be so many exploits that I need something truly strong.  Bitdefender and Kapersky have the best ratings. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is suggested to be an excellent companion to anti-virus.  It's not cheap to be safe but why let your machine be compromised and have it helping the bad guys take what they want and slow you down?

Update 2015.11.19: Software Update found system version 1511, I believe it was--the big one.

It used another 3 GB but completed.  Hopefully, the stability will be improved and they didn't introduce too many new problems.  It's a new Microsoft, right?

Actually, it didn't.  I used an approximate total of 7 GB since I powered on the machine.  That would be a lot of updates.

Update 2015.11.20: Switching between shapes/orientations is interesting.  I wasn't able to use it in tent mode yet.  It was sliding quite a lot, possibly because the rubberized material around the computer half was not used around the display half.  It has a harder finish, continued from the cover.

I was able to use it in convertible/tablet mode.  It is effective, but having used an actual tablet, using a 14 inch convertible is not comfortable.  Using it in display only mode, with the keyboard upside down worked the best.  The only real problem is that the on-screen keyboard is not automatically activated when needed.  However, this is sometimes a problem with my 2013 Google Nexus 7 tablet.

The physical keyboard has been a problem and is a problem as I'm trying to write this.  It isn't necessary to jam so many keys in so little space.  If the cursor keys would have been moved lower, they wouldn't be so actively in my way.  Backspace either works amazingly quickly or the computer beeps at me.  However, this is a new user problem.

Similarly, the split trackpad has a learning curve.  I've been using a Mac trackpad since 2005.  That one had a single button.  The newer, mid-2012 model had no button.  Both use 2 fingers to right-click.  Accidental cursor movement while starting to type has been a problem.

One thing that works quite well, unexpectedly well, is the Windows Store.  I have been unhappy with Apple's Mac App Store and sometimes, the iTunes store.  The Mac App Store software often has a problem with downloads and purchases, for me.

e.g., I went to download One Drive, and it immediately failed.  It suggested that I retry the operation from the Purchases page.  The same thing happened.  (It was interesting to see the word "Error", as this was forbidden in the early days of the Macintosh.)  I waited a couple of hours and after two times, the download and installation was successful.  Using the Windows store, updates worked immediately.

It's good to see that Microsoft has seen enough competition to re-think their desire to survive.

2015.11.27: Having bought the Malwarebytes Premium Anti-Malware, Anti-Exploit package, installing it was necessary, and slightly painful.  The Anti-Exploit application was installed easily.  The Anti-Malware kept saying "Downloading" but it never finished.  The company gave me a link to a download and after this was installed, clicking "Activation" allowed me to enter the licensing information.

I've been noticing that the display is economical.  Sure, it has a resolution of 1920x1080 but the refresh rate is 60 Hz.  It has ten touch recognition. which is great, if you happen to use ten at once.  Perhaps, two people could finger paint at the same time or play finger twister.  The real trouble with the display is the depth of the color.  I put up one of my photos from around sunset and there is nasty banding that isn't in the photo itself.  At least, it doesn't display a posterization sort of effect.

Update 2015.12.02: I saw a Yoga model for the same price, which was approximately the same but allowed more RAM, had an m7 instead of I7, was thinner, and had an amazing surface texture.  I don't really need thinner but 16 GB of RAM would be good for video processing.  I keep looking and it seems almost completely the same inside except for the SSD and the maximum RAM.

I'd think a dual core I7 with 8 GB of RAM would be plenty for general speediness and it has yet to show that.  Perhaps, it's just that Windows 10 is so new and that I'm accustomed to a fast SSD on Mac OS X instead of a 5400 rpm hard drive.  Perhaps, Windows 10 needs to become accustomed to what I do.

I recently bought a new Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 lens and Adorama offered me a discount on the already discounted Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 14.  I installed it on the Windows machine, as I'm still not comfortable with the Sony Movie Studio package and I want some familiarity with Premiere, even a junior version.  Naturally, after installation, there was a 130 MB update.

I still haven't decided on anti-virus software because there are three versions of Bitdefender.  The minimum is probably enough, as I removed the McAfee LiveSafe or whatever, and I'm now running Windows Defender for anti-virus and firewall with Malwarebytes anti-malware and anti-exploit.

Update 2016.07.10: That is finished. I gave away the Flex 3 the other day to someone whose laptop computer was destroyed.

I spent way too much time updating and not using it, so this is a better solution.

It's a bit sad that a machine from 2012 was faster and more capable.  Thank goodness I didn't buy anything with a Core M processor.  I'm sure i would have been upset.  However, the touch screen technology was interesting.  It occasionally made things more usable.

Update 2016.07.31: Newegg has refurbished models for around US$500, including the Flex 3 I had and the 15.6 inch model with a nVidia GT940M.

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